Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Pico (CSO) No. 4
Pico Canyon

Pico No. 4

Fifty barrels of oil shot out of a newly-deepened California Star Oil well on September 26, 1876. Known alternately as "Pico No. 4" or "CSO No. 4," it was the first commercially successful oil well in the western United States.

This photograph of Pico No. 4 was taken by Carleton E. Watkins on June 26, 1877. The well was tucked away in the Santa Susana Mountains formation of Pico Canyon, approximately four miles west of the present-day Lyons Avenue exit off of California Interstate 5 in the Santa Clarita Valley. It had been punched to a depth of 617 feet by a French immigrant named Charles Alexander Mentry, just 30 years old but nonetheless a veteran of the world's first commercial oil fields in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Transient oil workers migrated to Pico Camp to harvest the bounty, and by 1880, as many as 100 families lived in what was now being called Mentryville. Not only did Pico No. 4 give birth to an industry in California; it was also the longest-running oil well in the world when it was finally capped off in September of 1990.

Further Reading: The Story of Mentryville.

RETURN TO TOP ]   RETURN TO MAIN INDEX ]   PHOTO CREDITS ]   BIBLIOGRAPHY ]   BOOKS FOR SALE ] is another service of SCVTV, a 501c3 Nonprofit • Site contents ©SCVTV
The site owner makes no assertions as to ownership of any original copyrights to digitized images. However, these images are intended for Personal or Research use only. Any other kind of use, including but not limited to commercial or scholarly publication in any medium or format, public exhibition, or use online or in a web site, may be subject to additional restrictions including but not limited to the copyrights held by parties other than the site owner. USERS ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for determining the existence of such rights and for obtaining any permissions and/or paying associated fees necessary for the proposed use.